Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Priest of our Order
Feast Day: 19 November

Who was Raphael Kalinowski?

Quotes of St Raphael Kalinowski

St Raphael's message for the 21st Century

Prayer for St Raphael's intercession

Further Reading

Who was Raphael Kalinowski?
A brief biography

Joseph Kalinowski was born on 1 September 1835 into an aristocratic Polish family living in Vilnius, Lithuania. He was baptised nine days later in the family parish church of St. John. His father
Andrew was a professor at the Nobiliary Institute at Vilna, and it was here that Joseph was educated and received maximum distinction. He then went to the School of Agriculture at Hory-Horky for two years from 1851-1852. Following this, he entered the military in 1853 and studied civil engineering at the Academy of Military Sciences in St Petersburg. He was appointed to Belarus, where he was given the task of overseeing the building of a railway line between Kurst and Odessa. Because of his success at this work, he was promoted to captain by the time the Russian Army occupied Poland in 1863.  However, as a Polish Patriot, he resigned from the army, participated in the uprising against the Russian occupation and was subsequently captured and condemned to death. His sentence was later commuted to 10 years' exile in Siberia.

Joseph was forced to take a nine-month trek to Siberia. His first 4 years there were spent in a desolate labour camp - the salt mines of Usole, near Irkutsk, where he became known as a man of boundless charity and serenity. Fellow prisoners sought him out for spiritual advice. Witnesses later related a frequent prayer among Poles jailed in Siberia: "Through the prayers of Kalinowski, have mercy on us!" In 1868 he moved from the salt-works to Irkutsk where he remained until his release in 1874.

Joseph was freed in 1874 but forbidden to live in any major Polish city, so he went to Paris where he became tutor to sixteen year old Prince August Czartoryski, who later became a Salesian priest. The job was in fact more than simply tutor, but also a governor and travelling companion. Through the Prince's family, Joseph met a relative - Princess Marcelline Czartoryska who introduced him to St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and the order of Discalced Carmelites. This Princess later became a Carmelite nun herself!

Over two years, Joseph's desire for religious life began to grow although at first he did not know which Order he should enter. Eventually he had the chance to visit Princess Marcelline in her monastery at Krakow, where she told him - to his delight - that the Carmelite Order was dedicated to and presided over by the Mother he so loved - Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He made up his mind that this was the life for him.

On 5 July 1877, Joseph entered the Carmelite Monastery at Linz, Austria, because there were no priories for men in his native Poland. He took the name "Brother Raphael of St Joseph". By the time he was ready for Solemn Profession in 1882, Russian dominance had eased in Poland and he was able to take this great step in his home country at the Carmelite monastery in Czerna. He was also ordained priest in 1882. He contributed greatly to the restoration of the Discalced Carmelites in Poland, especially in Czerna, Krakow and Wadowice, where he founded a monastery, church and seminary in 1892 and served as its prior. He also founded convents in Lwow and Przemysl. 
His special apostolate was with the schismatic Russians along the Polish border and inside territorial Russia. His other apostolate centred on the confessional - his gift of charity made him a much sought after spiritual director, but he also taught the novices and served in other capacities.
His spiritual life is marked by continual prayer, austerity and silence. He wrote several books on Carmelite spirituality. He died in Wadowice on 15 November, 1907 and was buried in the Czerna Carmelite cemetery. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Krakow on 22 June 1983, and canonized on 17 November 1991. 

Quotes of St Raphael Kalinowski

Every step of our life should bring us closer to God, and help to provide at least a little happiness to our neighbour. The real happiness in this valley of tears, is doing God's will in everything. Only the person who seeks happiness in this way - avoiding all worry about the difficulties, sorrows and sufferings with which one may be afflicted - will find that happiness.
I keep my eyes fixed on Eternity, and from this source I draw constancy in the midst of the confusion of daily life; freedom in my social relations, and joy in spirit...

I like to find at least a few moments each day spent in doing good for others out of love for God. These few moments, almost unoticeably used, bring something like rays of peace and comfort behind them; they unite us with people and God by a pure feeling of tender sweetness.

We are not in Carmel for trifling things; we are here for God.

Devotion to the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was, and still is, for me a source of patience, perseverance, refuge and consolation; literally, the very spring of my life. Without this mystery of our Saviour's love, which he has left for us in the Church, I would have perished long since.

What a pity it is that , through we are on earth simply to prepare for Heaven, we hardly ever speak of it. How we waste our life and our energies!

Saint Raphael's message for the 21st Century

Adapted from 2007 lecture notes by Fr Szczepan Praskiewicz OCD

The life of St Raphael Kalinowski is an example for many different kinds of people - young and old, men and women, soldiers, university professors, priests, religious and industrial workers.  The best example to illustrate this is the recent decision of the Polish Senate which declared that he is an example for officers, engineers, tutors, priests and religious, as well as the Polish immigrants who live and work in the West and those who live in great number in Lithuania, Siberia, Kazakhstan and Russia. St Raphael was like a prophet ahead of Vatican II when he spoke about the importance of ecumenism and church unity, especially with the Russian Orthodox Church. He also spoke of the "universal call to holiness" - another great teaching of the Council.

Example for laity:
Unusually in his day, St. Raphael believed that all the baptized are called to holiness. He spent 42 years of his life as a lay Christian. Before he entered the Carmelites, he received Holy Communion daily and advised others to do the same. He was a man of deep prayer, and even in his most difficult times in Siberia, he regarded it as a treasure that could never be taken away from him. He said: "The world can take everything from me, but my prayer... such prayer is my hope".
Raphael was also a man of action - he was eager to help the weakest ones and to share what he could of his money, food, clothing and also spiritual goods - which were more valuable to him than material goods.
He loved the sacraments of the Church and said: "What would my life be without the Church's treasures. Lord, teach me to use them wisely and fearlessly..." These sentiments of St Raphael were echoed by Pope John Paul when he wrote to the laity about the importance of holiness and the sacraments in the document "Christifideles laici" in 1988.

Example for religious:
St Raphael said that the aim of religious life is to sacrifice our life in the service of God and others in the spirit of poverty, obedience and chastity. A religious person, he said, is just an ordinary Christian who tries to stand near to Christ. He spent 30 years of his life in the Carmelite Order and performed many offices and functions, but he always practiced what he preached and there was a balance between his word and action. His motto for religious was: "through chastity you can find the Lord, through poverty you can walk closely with Him and through obedience you will never leave Him".
Raphael was aware that the greatest obstacle for religious life was routine - i.e it is very dangerous to believe that it is enough to fulfil only our duties. This would be following the spirit of the law only, but not the spirit of love. He said that a smile or helping hand to our brother or sister can sometimes be more significant in the eyes of the Lord than long meditations. St Raphael is an example of how to love one's religious family - he never avoided any events, games or discussions in which his community was engaged. He understood the sensitivities of others, and he respected the feelings of others who had different views on particular aspects of religious life. He always called them to be faithful to the grace of their calling to holiness.

Example for priests:
Raphael believed that he did not belong to himself, but to others. Reflecting on the problem of human happiness he came to understand that it is found in sacrificing our life in the service of others. However, he discovered the consequence of this thinking: "If I give myself in the service of others, it means that the others have the right to take anything that belongs to me. I allow them to do it, as Christ did... and it does not mean only material goods, but also my time and my spiritual goods". After his first Mass, Raphael exclaimed enthusiastically:"I am the happiest man on earth". At every Mass he said he stressed the fact that he was another Christ who serves others. During the Mass, he said, a priest does not sacrifice himself, but unites himself to the Son of God who offers Himself forever for us.
During his canonisation, Pope John Paul II said that the church today needs priests like Raphael Kalinowsk - it needs them like never before; priests who understand their ministry as sacrifice for others, priests who serve the poor and rejected, priests who follow Christ.

Let us pray that those who come to know St Raphael Kalinowski will be inspired by the great example of his life and grow in holiness, charity and the service of others. St Raphael is an example of a true friend of God for the whole human family.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Raphael Kalinowski

Lord God,
You made your priest Saint Raphael strong in adversity
and filled him with a great love
in promoting Church unity,
Through his prayers,
make us strong in faith
and in love for one another,
that we too may generously work together for the unity of all believers in Christ.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, One God,
for ever and ever.

Prayer from Siberia

Lord, I have rejected many times your call to follow your way of the cross.
I often say that I love you, but I quickly forget that to love you means to follow your way of suffering. Jesus, help me to walk your way.

Raphael Kalinowski

Further Reading

Wikipedia listing:

Vatican biography used on the day of his canonisation:

An interesting page created by a relative of the Kalinowski family:

Article by Eileen Ahern, OCDS

The text on this page has been taken from the "Calendar of Carmelite Saints"
published by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore, "Saint from the Salt Mines" by
Monk Matthew and lecture notes of Fr. Szczpean Praskiewicz OCD.

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